Belfast Telegraph

Armed duo caught outside policeman's house escape murder bid charge

BY JOHN CASSIDY

Two men from the Republic who were due to go on trial for the attempted murder of a student policeman more than four years ago have pleaded guilty to terrorist offences.

Former Irish soldier Gerard James McManus (28) and Kevin Barry Nolan (35) pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to having a firearm with intent to endanger life on November 21, 2009 in Garrison, Co Fermanagh.

McManus, from Fernhill, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, and Nolan, of Main Street, Blacklion, also admitted to possessing articles likely to be used in the preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

The court heard these related to a car, a balaclava, gloves, lighters and soap.

The charge of attempting to murder the PSNI officer will be left on the books.

McManus had pleaded guilty last November to using a gun to resist his arrest by police during an undercover security force operation.

Nolan, who once stood unsuccessfully as an independent republican candidate, polling only 115 votes, surrendered himself.

Judge Corinne Philpott QC remanded the pair into custody.

They will be sentenced this Thursday.

Although no details surrounding the shooting or their arrests were given to the Crown Court, during a series of Magistrates Courts sittings, McManus and Nolan claimed they had no intention of shooting the trainee officer, only to scare him.

They were spotted in a Vauxhall Astra approaching his home before police moved in.

Wearing a balaclava, McManus allegedly went to the front door, while Nolan remained in the front passenger seat of the Astra, where he was later arrested, sitting on a magazine, loaded with 16 rounds for a Glock pistol.

McManus escaped, running down the side of the house and firing off a shot.

He was apprehended at 8am the following day in a garden shed. A mask and gloves were found in the shed, but no gun was recovered.

During interview, both men maintained they had no intention of harming the student police officer.

McManus told detectives: "There was no way I was going to shoot him.

"I was going to fire a couple of shots in the air... to scare him, wanted to terrify him like."

In his interviews Nolan, whose alleged role was to give McManus directions, claimed that as far as he was concerned: "No harm was going to be caused."

He also claimed that firing the gun was to "put the frighteners on him".

PSNI thwarted attack after tip-off

By Adrian Rutherford

The gun attack on the home of a police officer shattered the calm of a quiet Saturday evening in Garrison, bringing terror to the border village and stirring memories of the Troubles.

At least three shots were fired during the incident on a cold, late November night in 2009. However, the gunmen were intercepted by an undercover police team acting on a tip-off about the attack.

The target, a young Catholic PSNI officer, and his family had been moved out of their house hours before.

An unmarked police vehicle rammed a car at the scene and there was an exchange of gunfire with at least three shots fired. Two shots were fired by officers and at least one by the gunmen in what police had described as "a planned terrorist attack".

Five men were arrested with two, Gerard James McManus and Kevin Barry Nolan, charged with a number of offences linked to the incident.

The men maintained they had no intention of harming the student officer, insisting they fired the gun merely to "put the frighteners on him".

The village, situated around 20 miles from Enniskillen close to the Donegal border, suffered from a lack of trade during the 1970s and 1980s when key border crossings were blown up to prevent explosives being smuggled into Northern Ireland.

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